CAMPUS CHRONICLES: The Naughty and the Nice on LGBT Issues

As college students return home for winter break at the end of another semester, Bondings 2.0 offers several updates and items of interest related to LGBT inclusion in Catholic higher education.

Marquette University Suspension

Cheryl Abbate

Milwaukee’s Marquette University has suspended a political science professor and is investigating him for criticizing a graduate student on his personal blog. John McAdams wrote disparagingly about philosophy instructor Cheryl Abbate, whose decision to limit anti-gay remarks she deemed not germane was the source of a recent controversy. According to Reuters, McAdams claimed that Abbate:

“…challenged a student’s opposition to gay rights and told the student ‘homophobic comments’ would not be allowed in the class. She also suggested the student drop the class if he did not like it, according to McAdams. McAdams wrote Abbate was using a liberal tactic to dismiss any opinion that does not fit into their views.”

Neither McAdams nor Abbate commented on this most recent development, but McAdams has recently been critical of Marquette administrators for, as he perceives it, limiting academic freedom. As Bondings 2.0 reported in a previous post on the Abbate incident, many commenters believe Abbate’s judgment call for classroom discussion was appropriate. Abbate has received hate mail as a result of McAdams making this case public.

CUA Students Interrupt Anti-Gay Speakers

Catholic University of America students affiliated with two unofficial campus organizations, LIFT CUA and CUAllies, challenged anti-gay speakers who appeared at an event on children’s rights which was held at the Washington, DC school. The program, hosted by a campus group working against LGBT equality, featured Robert Oscar Lopez who has called the LGBT rights movement “an engine of world-historical evil” and an “international war on black people” tied to a modern form of slavery. It also featured self-identified advocate for children, Stella Morabito, who has written against marriage equality by claiming “Abolishing all civil marriage is the primary goal of the elites who have been pushing same sex marriage.”  LIFT CUA is a student group working for campus reform, and CUAllies is the campus’ unofficial LGBT student group.

The event was held in collaboration with the annual Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. CUAllies noted a bizarre twist:

“Today, it is a well-known fact that the most important aspect a family must provide for a child to thrive is love! LGBT Youth make up 1/5 of all homeless youth, and are twice as likely to fall into homelessness due to a families intolerance or non-acceptance. Mr. Lopez carries a message of hate and discrimination where ever he speaks, guised in an idea of children’s rights. He should not be allowed to speak on campus ever, let alone during a week dedicated to bringing awareness to hunger and homelessness as well as offer solutions to prevent it.”

Pro-LGBT students interrupted the event by chanting “Racist, sexist, anti-gay. Free speech fascists go away.”  You can view the protest below or by clicking here.

Notre Dame’s Pastoral Plan at Two

In December 2012, University of Notre Dame administrators listened to more than two decades of pressure from LGBT and ally community members at the Indiana school by releasing a pastoral plan for greater LGBT acceptance and inclusion. Two years later, students reflected on the campus’ progress in student newspaper The Observer. Writing about the ongoing challenges, Lillian Crawford and Bryan Ricketts draw on the recent Synod:

“[The synod] challenges us to look at others not as deficient, but as containing a whole person, bringing with them their own valuable perspective and personal experiences…As a community, we have the ability to come together and manifest our love into a true family, welcoming to all people. On this two year anniversary, we invite you to join us in committing to fully supporting, loving and accepting all LGBTQ students.”

Meanwhile, gay Catholic Christopher Damian challenges those who, like himself, adhere to the magisterial articulation of the teaching on homosexuality to see beyond this teaching to the human beings it impacts. In his own essay, Damian asks:

“I love the Church, and I believe Her teachings are true, even those about marriage. But I think Tyler London is right. In our arguments over marriage, ‘we forget about the human consequences of these arguments when or if they are carried out.’…

“We have to change. What may be needed is less of a focus on defending teachings and more of a focus on touching the lives of others. Talk about love will always carry less power than being loved. And we have to ask harder questions. Even if gay people accept the Church and Her teachings, what happens to us after we do? Where do we live? How do we love? Who do we rely on?”

As Christmas celebrations commence, this question of how to truly welcome, care for, and be nourished by LGBT people is a point of reflection coming from Catholic colleges that impacts all of our lives. To read Bondings 2.0‘s full coverage of Catholic higher education, see the “Campus Chronicles” category to the right or click here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

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